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Taliban announce creation of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

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The Taliban on Thursday announced the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the 102nd anniversary of the country’s independence from British rule.

“[This is the] declaration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the country’s independence from British rule,” tweeted Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid.

In Kabul, Taliban fighters manned checkpoints the airport as concerns were expressed that they were blocking Afghans from reaching evacuation flights, with the United States demanding safe passage.

Tens of thousands of people have tried to flee Afghanistan since the hardline militants swept into the capital on Sunday, completing a stunning rout of government forces and ending two decades of war.

Taliban leaders have in recent days repeatedly vowed not to seek revenge against their opponents, while seeking to project an image of tolerance.

They have also sort to portray growing political authority, with Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar returning from exile and other senior figures meeting ex-president Hamid Karzai.

But the United States said Wednesday the Taliban were reneging on pledges to allow Afghans who worked with the United States and its allies out of the country.

“We have seen reports that the Taliban, contrary to their public statements and their commitments to our government, are blocking Afghans who wish to leave the country from reaching the airport,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters.

“We expect them to allow all American citizens, all third-country nationals, and all Afghans who wish to leave to do so safely and without harassment.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Tuesday that the new regime would be “positively different” from their 1996-2001 stint.

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